Monday, August 29, 2005

BBC NEWS | England | End of the line for train smoking

One of the reasons why liberty is under such threat in Britain is that our people are now so intolerant. 90% of GNER's passengers don't smoke. Fair enough. That means 10% do. Many less sizeable minorities exert massive influence. Not smokers however.

I remember as a young man working with a chain-smoking boss. You could sit across the desk from him and barely make him out through the fug. Today's ventilation and air-conditioning systems are such that he's no longer a problem even to those afraid of "passive smoking". However - if he's still working - he's probably in a non-smoking building, loitering at intervals with the other pariahs in the rainy streets outside.

I have never smoked cigarettes. I am aware of the risks and choose not to take them. I confine myself to the occasional weekend cigar - too few of them even to concern my life-insurers. However, if others want to smoke - and are able to do so considerately - why should I get all Cromwellian about it?

Nor have I ever understood why smokers' life insurance premiums are loaded, while they never get discounts on pension plans - or their national insurance payments. By dying younger, they are subsidising non-smokers pensions. For that matter, taxes on smoking fund the NHS to such an extent that it is pretty much a "free good" to non-smokers.

I feel sorry for the smokers corralled in shocking conditions in airports and other public places. It seems unkind to me. Fresh into Heathrow off no-smoking long-haul flights, they have little choice but to cram themselves into the cattle pens provided. If "passive smoking" exists, we are making those poor guys smoke a pack at a time!

We live among people who would rather die of curable diseases than have one guinea pig suffer during medical research. Yet those same people are prepared to treat fellow-humans thus. As long as we are so intolerant of the foibles of others, we cannot really expect our government to be liberal.

BBC NEWS | England | End of the line for train smoking

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